“Sod the wine, I want to suck on the writing. This man White is an instinctive writer, bloody rare to find one who actually pulls it off, as in still gets a meaning across with concision. Sharp arbitrage of speed and risk, closest thing I can think of to Cicero’s ‘motus continuum animi.’

Probably takes a drink or two to connect like that: he literally paints his senses on the page.”

DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little, Ludmila’s Broken English, Lights Out In Wonderland ... Winner: Booker prize; Whitbread prize; Bollinger Wodehouse Everyman prize; James Joyce Award from the Literary & Historical Society of University College Dublin)





09 October 2014


Blue Pyrenees Shiraz 2012 
$24; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap; 89+ points 

They were grand old days when the wicked Francois Henri was redesigning the Blue Pyrenees vineyard north-east of Ararat, which his employer, Remy Martin, had originally planted in the 'sixties to make premium brandy. The brandy business was taxed into oblivion in the early seventies. Out came the brandy grapes in the ensuing decade; in went the standard red varieties of the day. 

Colin Lanceley was called in to paint the vineyard beneath the full moon and Francois had a handsome label designed which copied the packaging of Rothmans International cigarettes, a deluxe brand of extra-long smokes for duty-free airport stores. That label was ultra radical in its day, not because it was influenced by the tobacco business, but  because it was blue, then a definite no-no for wine. 

We were tasting the components for his red blend, which was a Bordeaux-style mix with a little Shiraz, when I convinced him the peppery, feisty, young vine Shiraz was so good it should have its own label. A game and adventurous soul, Francois called it Australis, as he hoped it would be exported to France, to show the Rhone blokes a thing or two. Here, it was considered one of the better early cool-climate Shiraz offerings of its day.

Remy hit the international financial shellgrit eventually, and retired hurt. After one thing and another, a group of investors bought the business in 2002. They're still there.

Keeping in mind my sentimental connection, permit me to suggest this is a warmer, softer red than its zappy ancestor. Now those vines are hitting some proper age, it's rich without being strong, and more mellow and soulful. It's not at all gloopy or jammy. It has a dark damp earth and tomato bush aroma, in with its old leather upholstery and polished walnut wood: it smells like an old Jaguar with a warm engine, an oil leak and potted tomato plants on the back seat. Maybe some mushrooms, too. It calmly settles in on the mouth without any challenge. Settle into it, and it's a nostalgic sort of a ride. The tannins are fine and dry and drawn out, and seem well suited to tea-smoked duck or roast quail with pine nuts, reduced spinach on the side. It's no grand cru, but a good drink for the money, and stylistically, a bit of a rarity.

While Francois' original blue-and-gilt Rothmans label is gone, it's good to see Colin's full moon survives, especially beneath a Blood Moon eclipse like tonight's. 

Longhop Mount Lofty Ranges Shiraz 2013 
$18; 14% alcohol; screw cap; 89++ points 

This baby's a year younger, so it has a touch more bright berry fruit, but it's pretty much after the 'Blueper' in style. Made from low-yielding older vines in the high Barossa and the hills to the south and west, it has similar hints of tomato garden and mushroom with a little white pepper piquancy in place of the old Jag which has yet to arrive. Give it a couple of years. Maybe it's a tad yeasty, as in doughy bread. That's a fault in the nostrils of the show ring technocrats, but it's fine by me. The palate is sinuous rather than plush, still comforting, and a little cheeky. Instead of Colin Lanceley, it has a fine George Grainger Aldridge portrait of an old vine on the front, setting the tone just right. As it slowly draws out to its dry tannin taper, it makes me dribble for the sort of delicious blue steak the kitchen at the Lion Hotel does just perfectly: no bucking, no moo, no horns, a little crusty and caramelised on the outside, and warm all the way through. To push the blue mood, both these wines are perfect accompaniments to the Miles Davis masterpiece, Kinda Blue. They also make me dangerously nostalgic for a slow draw on one of those long-gone Rothmans. Mmmmm.

Blood Moon eclipse 09.10.14 from International Space Station


@dodgybrothers said...

" it smells like an old Jaguar with a warm engine, an oil leak and potted tomato plants on the back seat." Gold - V8 or V12?

Philip White said...

1967 Mk II 3.8 six